I live in Ireland. Just over a year ago, a journalist in this country wrote something—intended as a compliment—but was perceived by many as bigotry (or at least so they said). What happened next was nightmarish. Social media (initially started by a tweet from J.K. Rowling in England) exploded against the malefactor. Then the newspapers and other media chimed in, and finally, the chair of the Press Council and the Prime Minister! each added their politically correct two cents—against the embattled journalist. The journalist was fired from his job—notwithstanding his heartfelt apology—followed by the self-anointed morally perfect permanently outraged class dancing on the man’s (professional) grave. The whole episode was ad idem with Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery and the worst stereotypes associated with group-think in traditional village life.
I was one of a few people who defended this journalist in public.
A few days ago, he and I were having dinner. He made a point of thanking me (something which he had already done in the past)—and told me that he just could not imagine how he would have gotten through those trying times absent support he had from me and a handful of others.
This is what I told him.
I was sorry those events had happened to him. I would not wish such trials on him or anyone else, particularly as he was innocent of the gravamen of the charge. Still I urged him not have to thank me. Here is why. It was good craic defending him in public. For a few days, I was a person of interest to the Irish news media—in print and on the air. The reality was that my public role was a joy. The professionally morally preening class was (to some small extent) wrong-footed by my efforts. And my e-mail account was filled with notes of encouragement—something which does not happen all too often. So I urged him not to get into such hot water again—but he really did not have to thank me.
This is not quite schadenfreude, but if so, what do you call it?
Seth Barrett Tillman, This Is Not Quite Schadenfreude, But If So, What Do You Call It?, New Reform Club (Dec. 12, 5:42 AM), <https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2018/12/this-is-not-quite-schadenfreude-but-if.html>.